Truancy refers to unauthorised absentee from school during the compulsory going years. Several students skip schools for their own reasons and lose a lot in the education system. Different schools have various definitions for truancy but the number of truants is on the increase.
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Truancy has been linked with delinquent behaviour in students and negative behaviour later in adulthood. The students who engaged in truancy in school are more likely to destructive behaviour and poverty in adulthood. The problem with truancy is widespread. The trend of truancy seems very fashionable to the extent of the truants sharing their ideas on how to skip classes on the internet.
The truants waste their time because they miss an opportunity to acquire skills and knowledge for use in life and future careers. Moreover, the students who cut classes waste their parents’ money. The problem of truancy often is a symptom of underlying problems that cause students to skip classes. The reasons behind truancy are many and vary.
Reasons for truancy
Many factors contribute to truancy. There is no consensus on the causes of truancy because various groups often contest the factors. For instance, parents and students say that the main causes of truancy are school related. On the other hand, teachers, local authorities and staff believe that home and parents are the major causes of unauthorised absentee of students (Reid, 2008). The factors can be grouped into various broad categories.
Students are unique in behaviour, which determines how they attend classes. Some students have low self esteem and they do not feel confident around other students and may decide to skip school because of the discomfort the presence of others causes especially if the others are deemed as self confident and outgoing.
Other students will skip school because of learning problems especially in reading or math to avoid the ridicule of the other students. Moreover, some may opt to cut classes because of unrecognized problems such as poor eyesight and hearing challenges (Baker et al, 2001). Such problems hinder the student from understanding the lessons taught by the teachers and fail.
The failure in class causes shame or feelings of inadequacy and a student may develop a poor self-perception and result to truancy (Kyriacou, 2003). Poor people skills may also cause some students to skip school because they are unable to develop relationships with their fellow students hence feel socially isolated. Others skip school due to psychological instability, which leads to depression. Some may skip school due to alcohol or drug abuse (Parampumkattil, 2006).
A student who engages in substance abuse does not understand the importance of attending school regularly because the illegal substances interfere with their thinking capacity. Some students fail to attend school because of poor health especially if they spend most of the time in and out of hospital.
Negative peer influence may cause some students to cut classes and fit in the groups of students who are not school oriented (Parampumkattil, 2006; Malcolm et al, 2003). The other reason that may cause a student to skip class is the fear of teachers or the school administrators. Other factors are bullying and a student would rather skip school than face bullies especially if there is no protection. Female students can also engage in truancy because of teen pregnancy.
Parents also contribute to the problem of truancy through enablement. Some parents work outside home for many hours and lack time to find out how their children are doing in school. The lack of attention from parents towards schoolwork discourages some students from working hard (Reid, 2005).
They skip school because the parents will not know. Some parents have a do not care attitude and think absenteeism from school is the school’s problem and hence he or she should not be involved. Some parents do not appreciate the value of education especially the ones with low or no academic qualification (Dalziel & Henthorne, 2005). Poor parenting skills also promote truancy especially if the parents condone the bad behaviour.
Some may condone truancy because they are afraid to confront the children and become bad parents. Instead, they prefer to be friends with their children and allow them to behave how they will and thus parents neglect their responsibility towards their children (Reid, 2008). Some parents have substance abuse problem and may neglect the children in terms of paying school feel, proving nutrition, clothes and health among others.
Children lack basic needs and result in truancy (Parampumkattil, 2006). Some of the parents abuse their children physically, sexually and emotionally and the students cut classes due to the harm done to them. Some parents may force the older children to look about his or her younger siblings during school days. The other problem is family instability especially in lone parent headed units. Children may skip school due to lack of proper authority. Moreover, poverty may cause the single parent to fail to provide for them (Reid, 2008).
Some schools lack a proper method of dealing with the problem of truancy and students do not fully appreciate the need of attending school. Minority students may feel out of place in some schools because of problems such racism.
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The schools may also fail to embrace cultural diversity and leave out students who do not understand the school’s culture. The attitude of the school, teachers, and students may determine how a student perceives school and in case of negative attitude, some students feel out of place and choose to skip classes (Attwood & Croll, 2006).
Some students have a problem with the school syllabus and consider some subjects a waste of time because the teachers fail to make them appreciate the value of the subjects (Southwell, 2006). Hence, students skip the classes they do not value (Baker et al, 2001). Lack of adequate guidance and counselling staff may cause some students to skip classes because they do not have anyone to listen to their problems. Low expectations from teachers can also cause truancy so is uninteresting curriculum (Parampumkattil, 2006).
The community plays a major role in the success of a school. Communities that do not support schools often experience the problem of truancy. Negative influences in the community such as substance abuse and gang activity can lead to truancy. Another factor in the community that can cause truancy is lack of adequate transportation especially if the schools are far from students’ homes (Parampumkattil, 2006). Upheavals in the community also cause truancy.
Truancy is a major problem in schools today. The symptoms of the trend ought to be tackled from the root to avoid the future problems that truants face. The stakeholders in a student’s education must work hand in hand to combat the problem and end the blame game. Measures must be put in place to deal with truancy and concerted effort employed.
It is a well-known fact that truancy often leads to low academic achievement and in other cases dropouts (Zhang, et al, 2010). Students that drop out of school reduce their chances of meaningful employment and many never get job opportunities hence fall into a cycle of poverty. Truancy is a threat to the future of students and must be stamped out of the education system.
Attwood, G. & Croll, P. 2006. Truancy in secondary school pupils: prevalence, trajectories and pupil perspectives. Research papers in Education, 21 (4), pp. 467-484.
Baker, M.L, Sigmon, J.N. & Nugent, E.M. 2001. Truancy reduction: Keeping students in school. Web. Available at: https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/188947.pdf.
Dalziel, D., & K. Henthorne, K. 2005. Parents/carers’ attitudes towards school attendance. London: DfES Publications.
Kyriacou, C. Helping troubled pupils. Cheltenham, Great Britain: Nelson Thornes.
Malcolm, H., Y. Wilson, J. Davidson, J. & Kirk. S 2003. Absence from school: A study of its causes and effects in seven LEAs. Research Report 424. Nottingham: DfES Publication
Parampumkattil, G. 2006. Truancy: a sociological study. Mittal Publications.
Reid, K. 2008. The causes of non-attendance: an empirical study. Educational Review, 60 (4), pp 345-257.
Reid, K. 2005. The causes, views and traits of school absenteeism and truancy. Research in Education, 1 (74), pp. 59-84.
Southwell, N. 2006. Truants on truancy-a badness or a valuable indicator of unmet special educational needs. British Journal of Special Education, 33 (2), pp. 91-97.
Zhang et al. 2010. Truancy offenders in the juvenile system: A multicohort study. Behavioural Disorders, 35 (3), pp. 229-242.